I’m talking on this new episode of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, ‘Architecture and Protest’. I’m discussing Chartists’ use of spaces and buildings for protest and political meetings:
Adam Elliott-Cooper is a researcher based at the University of Greenwich, who works on histories of racism and policing in Britain. His first monograph, Black Resistance to British Policing, was published by Manchester University Press in May 2021. He is also co-author of Empire’s Endgame: Racism and the British State (Pluto Press, 2021).
Hannah Awcock is a researcher based at the University of Edinburgh who is interested in the social, cultural, and historical geographies of resistance, publishing on subjects from the 1780 Gordon Riots to climate protests at COP26.
Morgan Trowland is a Civil Engineer and member of the protest group Extinction Rebellion.
Your hosts were Matthew Lloyd Roberts and Dr Jessica Kelly, and this project was devised with Neal Shasore
Images in the exhibition used with permission from: John Rylands University of Manchester; Working Class Movement Library, Salford; Manchester Archives and Local Studies; Once Upon a Time, Manchester Communication Academy; The National Archives, Kew. Thanks especially to Janette Martin of JRLUM.
Where did people
hold political meetings in Manchester and Salford?
sites of protest and political meetings in the 19th century included
Stevenson’s Square, St Peter’s Field, St George’s Fields (off Oldham
Road), and Granby Row Fields (now by the universities). The Chartists
held ‘monster’ meetings on Kersal Moor, Salford. The local authorities
held civic and anti-democracy events on St Ann’s Square and Ardwick Green.
societies before and after the 1819 Peterloo Massacre hired meeting rooms in George
Leigh Street, Ancoats, and Bibby’s mill, New Islington. Later the Chartists
and Socialists had their own buildings, including the Hall of Science
off Deansgate (now near where the Museum of Science and Industry is) and Carpenters’
Hall (near the Medlock).
In the later 19th century and 20th century, trade union and female suffrage demonstrations were usually held on Albert Square and Platt Fields.
Who were the
Chartists came after the Peterloo radicals. They were the biggest movement
campaigning for the vote for working-class men in 19th century
Britain. Working people of all genders and ages were involved. They presented
three massive petitions to parliament (a ‘People’s Charter’) in 1839, 1842 and
1848, demanding democracy and reform of the representative system. Though the
petitions were rejected, the movement laid the basis for the modern
parliamentary democracy today.
Manchester Chartists lived at number 69 Cropper Street: Daniel and his brother
Maurice Donovan. They were delegates to the Chartist National Convention in
1842 and 1848. Daniel was president of the powerloom weavers’ union, who led
the ‘plug’ strikes in 1842. He was arrested in 1848 for leading the Manchester
branch of the Irish Confederates, who fought to repeal the Act of Union between
Great Britain and Ireland.
Street and Back Cropper Street were built off Oldham Road in Collyhurst in the
first decade of the 19th century. Cropper Street later became known
as Osborne Street. It was in the Irish Catholic area.
streets remained isolated from the other streets, separated by St George’s
Fields, even in the 1840s. The terraces were cut across by two railway lines.
Generations of radicals and trade unionists lived on these streets – do you
live there now? Let us know!
on the street?
signed the 16 August 1819 petition,
Cut with a
sabre at Peterloo
Cowscroft, aged 23, weaver, 1817 Blanketeer
Signed the 6 August 1819 petition
Bickerstaff, signed the 6 August 1819 petition
age 22, ‘thrown down and trampled on and so much exhausted as to be carried off
the field for dead’ at Peterloo
Pendleton, aged 24, weaver, 1817 Blanketeer
Pendleton, subscribed to Chartist National Rent in 1839
Edward Philips, aged 24 and 19, weavers, 1817 Blanketeers
Edward Philips, arrested in 1812 for taking part in a reform meeting
Maurice Donovan, delegates to the Chartist National Convention 1842 and 1848,
president and secretary of the powerloom weavers’ union during the 1842 Plug
strikes. Daniel was arrested in 1848 as leader of the Irish Confederates.
What was the Round
House chapel on Every Street, off Great Ancoats Street, was built by Reverend
Dr James Scholefield (1790-1855). He was a Peterloo veteran, preacher and
doctor, and follower of William Cowherd, ‘the founder of vegetarianism’. The
chapel opened on the anniversary of Peterloo in 1823. The Working Class
Political Union held their meetings here during the 1831 Reform Bill agitation.
Trade union and Chartist meetings were held here, as well as a radical Sunday
School. A public meeting about the Tolpuddle Martyrs took place there in
Chartists erected a monument to Henry Hunt in the burial ground in 1842. It was
unveiled by Chartist leader Feargus O’Connor on the anniversary of Peterloo.
Hunt’s monument only survived a few decades before it fell down.
to 1963, the old chapel was used by Manchester University for their Settlement,
where students lived and volunteered among the working classes. The Round House
was demolished in 1986. The foundations and gravestones still exist – go and